Western allies vowed on Tuesday to boost NATO’s defences and to back Ukraine to the end as Moscow demanded Kyiv’s surrender.
As NATO leaders gathered in Madrid for a summit, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said Finland and Sweden would be formally invited to join NATO after Turkey lifted its block on their bids.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had stubbornly refused to approve their applications — lodged in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine — despite calls from his NATO allies to clear their path to membership.
But he abandoned his opposition following crunch talks on Tuesday with the leaders of the two Nordic countries in Madrid.
Erdogan’s office said late on Tuesday it had agreed to back their applications, saying Ankara had “got what it wanted”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the agreement between Finland, Sweden and Turkey, saying their
membership would make the defence alliance “stronger and safer”.
Meanwhile, a senior US official said their membership would be a “powerful shot in the arm” for NATO unity.
NATO’s expansion came as Russian missiles continued to pound Ukrainian cities.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters arriving with President Joe Biden that Washington will announce “historic” new long-term military deployments in Europe.
The reinforcements will join NATO’s eastern flank, Russia’s nervous neighbours like the Baltic states, and reflect a long-term change “in the strategic reality” elsewhere in Europe.
Ahead of the summit, Stoltenberg said the allies would boost their high-readiness forces from 40,000 to 300,000.